PHILIPSBURG–-The month of November closed off as being one of the busiest since business returned after the no-sail order was lifted for the cruise industry in connection with the pandemic, according to a press release by Port St. Maarten. Happening this weekend, four vessels of varying passenger capacities, a first for the island of this magnitude, will be carrying out homeporting operations, namely Star Flyer, Wind Surf, Seabourn Odyssey on Saturday and MSC Seaview on Sunday.
The port handled 75,572 cruise passengers for the month of November. December is expected even to be busier at the Dr. A.C. Wathey Cruise & Cargo Facility. Cruise tourism resumed six-months ago in the Americas when Celebrity Millennium started homeporting operations on June 5 out of St. Maarten.
Port St. Maarten Group (PSG) had projected for 2021 after the resumption of cruising that the destination would receive approximately 100,000 cruise passengers between June and December. They now expect approximately 200,000 for this period based on current forecast numbers thereby doubling the amount.
“Cruise developments have been moving on an upward trend when looking at vessel arrival numbers and vessel occupancy at almost 65 per cent,” Alexander Gumbs, PSG Chief Executive Officer (CEO) said. He added that with the increase in cruise traffic, there has also been an up-tick in container provisioning for cruise vessels, which is also a very positive development for the cargo section at the harbour.
“We are collectively looking at a local cruise sector rebounding after 21 months. For the 2021-2022 cruise season, we expect our numbers will increase as more people start to take cruises as travellers become more comfortable with stability in the cruise market. There is a lot as a destination to be grateful for, however, we must continue to abide by the public health and safety measures that are in place to protect us against COVID-19.
“Let us continue to maintain high service level standards and provide our guests with memorable destination experiences as we move into the holiday season and as we welcome more than 2000+ homeporting guests over the weekend,” Gumbs stated.
Star Clippers Star Flyer four-masted sailing ship with sixteen sails is 379 feet long and carries 166 guests. It is one of three sailing vessels that Star Clippers has in its fleet. Star Clippers was founded in 1989 and operates out of Florida. The luxury line offers cruise itineraries of three to 14 nights that include sailings through different parts of the world including the Caribbean.
MSC Seaview of MSC Cruises has a gross tonnage of 153,516 and is 1,060 feet long; can carry up to 5,079 passengers and 1,413 crew. The homeporting facilities at Port St. Maarten can accommodate and handle small and larger cruise vessels.
Seabourn Odyssey has 229 suites and is 650 feet long and can carry 458 guests and is considered a small cruise ship. The vessel joined the Seabourn fleet in 2009. Seabourn is considered a pioneer of small-ship ultra-luxury cruising.
Wind Surf is a sailing ship that belongs to Windstar Cruises. The 535 feet vessel has five masts and seven triangular, self-furling computer-operated sails that pushes the 14,745 gross registered ton ship across the Caribbean Sea allowing 342 guests to make memorable and maagical experiences.